Monthly Archives: September 2006

The One Where They All Find Out I’m a Total Dork

No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. Not-So-Evil Dayjob has been increasingly busy, with seven meetings in three days next week. Luckily, I don’t have to attend said meetings, just write the reports. But me? I have three meetings in as many days next week, and fly out Thursday.

Ommigod, ommigod, ommigod, I’m getting on a plane.

I vacillate between excitement and terror as I think about it, but excitement is starting to win over. But there’s a little dose of reality in there, too. You see, I am meeting several women there, rooming with two, whom I have known for several years online. Argument could be made that the two women I am rooming with (with whom I am rooming, if you want to be grammatically correct) are some of my best friends in the world. They know almost everything about me. But we’ve never actually met.

That is the odd thing about the information age, I think. You can bare your soul in an email or in an online conversation, but never actually physically meet a person. One lady, I’ve never even heard her voice. And while I have never tried to be anything other than myself with these women, meeting them face to face will erase any remaining mystery. They are going to discover I am a total dork.

I have this fantasy of being his sophisticated, mysterious, professionally distanced woman. I’m not. I am loud, socially awkward at times, and I tend to share way too much information. I’m insecure, I think I’m stupid, and have big-time body issues. Yep. They’re going to find that out. If they hadn’t already figured it out for themselves.

But there’s a ray of light in my self-deprecation. I was reading Grey Matter this morning. Now these are professional screenwriters. Writers of a hit show. In other words, the type of people us writers tend to idolize and fawn over. Krista Vernof is blogging this week, and admits to being a little freaked out to being quoted by the New York times because she tends to overshare. She acts insecure, states that she is unqualified to blog about Dihanne Carol, and basically admits she’s a dork. Thank God. By the way, she even makes a few typos in her entry, which is of great comfort to me.
Another author I’ve been lucky enough to become acquainted with broods about her weight. My own boss, who I consider to be a very together, bright and professional woman, makes goofy mistakes from time to time. I take comfort in all this. It’s not because I take pleasure in others’ failures. It’s because if all these people I respect and admire can be dorks on occasion, it means I can forgive my little idiosyncrasies a little easier.

Maybe in the end we’re all just a bunch of dorks. Geeks. Misfits. Call it what you will, I think in the end what we all are is human. And thank God I’m not the only one.



Filed under It's A Writing Life

If You’re of a Certain Age, Thank Your Local Chemist

I belong to several groups for writers, mostly online. Almost every one of them has among its membership an inordinate amount of mothers. Not that it’s a bad thing to be a mother, but guaranteed if you get more than about one or two in a room, there’s gonna be an argument.

I don’t know if it’s hormones or what, but for some reason, when you turn into a mother, it’s like you become a rabid weasel on crack about protecting your kids. Now that can mean any number of things. from protecting them from bad TV to predators to the high price of apple juice. This week in several of my groups, it was spinach.

If you haven’t heard the whole e-coli in the spinach thing yet, please crawl out from under your rock because if there’s spinach under there, you’re going to get pretty sick. We all agreed that eating spinach right now is something even Popeye would say is a bad idea. Good. No argument there. But the why was a totally different matter.

There was the “I was everything that comes into my house with Lysol and bleach” brigade. Then there was the “you take a chance breathing” bunch. But my all-time favorite bunch is the “I never buy anything that isn’t organic or has been touched by a chemical or has been touched by anything automated” group. Because, of course, we need to go back to our caveman roots so we can be healthy.

Yeah. Okay, so since your average caveman didn’t generally live past about 40, why would I want to do that? What’s my motivation here? Oh, I get the whole eating healthy thing, and I know there have been some bad chemicals out there, but to boycott them altogether? I just don’t get it. Chemicals have brought us medicines that would have killed our caveman friends, the face cream and cosmetics these same women sometimes slather on like facial aluminum siding, and… well… just about everything you look at. The computer I’m using right now? Yeah. Case made of plastic created by the miracles of modern chemistry. And in agriculture? Chemicals and fertilizers have ensured we haven’t starved to death by helping our plants grow. Our caveman friends did not have that, and man of them starved.

But as many good things chemicals have done, the die-hard organic lovers will cite four bad things. And it’s not that they’re wrong, it’s just that they’re looking out of a narrow field of vision. Eating natural, non-processed foods is good for you. No argument. But just because something has been grown in chemical fertilizers doesn’t mean it’s some carcinogenic time bomb and the equivalent of eating enriched uranium with a ketchup chaser.

The whole thing reminds me of an email that I received a few years ago with a note attached about writing my senator. It was all about the dangers of dihydrogen oxide. This stuff was a powerful solvent that kills people when accidentally inhaled. It went on and on, listing all the fatalities and dangers, noting all the big evil companies that used it everyday. How it was put into food, yada yada yada. Well, anyone who cracked their 10th grade chemistry book can figure out that dihydrogen oxide is H2o. Ya know. Water.

But people got caught up in the hype! And people have gotten caught up in the organic hype.

But the cavemen ate organic foods.

Hello, dead at 40! Starved, died from something that could have been cured by an anti-biotic. You know?A CHEMICAL?  Not that modern chemistry doesn’t have it’s limitations, mind you. My third son is living proof of that.

Oh, and the whole spinach thing? Yeah, organic or not, it was all tainted. And all the washing in the world wouldn’t fix it since it was in the soil.  And e-coli is NOT a man made chemical. It’s organic.

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I’m Wireless, Baby!

I am writing this from my bed. Online. On the first new laptop I’ve ever owned. I. Am. Spoiled.

I have a gazillion computers and computer components in my house, all hand-me-downs with the exception of what was my main computer: the desktop in the living room. But I can never get access to said desktop since the kids take over. And then there’s the whole issue of my hand-me-down laptop that wouldn’t let me save to a disk to take anywhere else. And I couldn’t get internet on it, either. So it was evident it was time for an upgrade.

So I bought my first brand new laptop, got a wireless router, and here I am. So now I need to justify this purchase by actually selling a book, right? Yeah. Working on that. T-minus two weeks and counting on New Jersey. Cross your fingers.

So now this is my main computer. Mine. No one else gets on this baby. Because I am a huge, spoiled baby. Heck yeah.

Now I get to try to fix my main PC, since a loverly little trojan kicked its butt. Ahhh… the miracle of modern technology!

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The Power of a Banana Shake

Was just talking to the janitor who works on my floor here at the Evil Day Job. He’s a nice fellow, spoils us rotten here in the office, and is fun to talk to. His granddaughter works at a local restaurant so we were chatting about it.

Now this is not a place I frequent often, simply because it is a little out of the way and, frankly, pricey. I have five people to feed, for Pete’s sake. But they do have the best ice cream in town. And, more to the point, banana shakes.

I love bananas. They are my favorite fruit by far, and the fact that they go with ice cream so well is just hot fudge on the sundae. But shakes are normally vanilla, chocolate or strawberry. If you’re lucky and hit the right place, you can get a coffee one, too, and those are pretty darned good. But banana? That is pretty unique to this place. And I tell you what, they don’t use powder, either. None of this banana pudding in the mix crap.  They use real bananas. Nectar of the gods.

So why am I going on about banana milkshakes at 9:30 in the morning. It’s the power of words. As I told the janitor about this banana milkshake, I suddenly had a huge craving for one. I need to go get one over lunch, I decided. Have to. And that is what just talking about something can do to you. Let alone reading about something.

When I was a kid, I read ANNE OF GREEN GABLES over and over again. Never in my life had I enjoyed bread with preserves on it, but since Anne Shirley enjoyed it, I had to try it. Was sold on it and have been ever since. When I read SCARLETT as a teenager, every other scene involved food. It was obvious the parallel the author was drawing between Scarlett as the starving heroine of the war and how she was starving for affection after Rhett leaves her. But the food was amazing. I think I gained ten pounds reading that book, because I’d get so blooming hungry!

Words can have incredible power of suggestion. I illustrate that here with food because, face it, I know food. I love food. But words can cause wars, words can bring peace, and words can make us crave. Food. Love. Power. You name it, words can make us want it.

I was chatting with a friend the other night, and another this morning, about my last book LET’S DISH. I need to get my head back into the characters and plot, and I’m at the point I have forgotten the hero’s name.

“Kevin,” my friend informs me. “And the best friend is Lilah.”  The friend with whom I was chatting the other  night remembered plot points I’d long ago forgotten, and drew parallels and inferences I hadn’t even known I’d made. Now these are lovely women who maybe put a little more stock into my writing ability than is actually fair. If they didn’t know me, would they remember Kevin and Lilah? would they think about what Maggie, my hero, always wanted is now what her carefree, commitment free best friend has? I have no idea.

What I want to do with my writing is make people crave, be it love or the white chocolate mousse wedding cake Maggie concocts.  I want people to hunger for my characters and their troubles. I want to make people laugh, cry, and want more. So do I do that? I don’t know. I hope so. For now, it’s good to know that the people I love know my characters and can remember things I can’t. Draw conclusions I didn’t. Hell, maybe one of them would even bring me a banana shake!

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Getting My Head In The Book

Still don’t know who I will be pitching my book to when I go to New Jersey next month. Heck, I don’t even know if it will be an agent or an editor, but I do know I signed up to pitch. I wanted to pitch the mystery, but there was just no way I was going to finish writing it before October. Well, writing it maybe. Editing it. Heck no. So I decided to pitch my last chick lit.

Apparently since I wrote the last chick lit, though, using the term “chick lit” has become like walking into high mass with the Pope himself at the altar and starting to pass out condoms. It’s taken on  a tacky tripe type reputation, I hear. Okay. well, it’s not a romance. I don’t think it would even qualify as romantic comedy. So what the heck is it?

Note to self – Go to the “What The Heck Do I Write Anyway?” seminar in Newark.

But figuring out what to call it is the least of my worries. Since I finished writing it, I have gotten a whole new cast of characters going on in my head doing totally different things than the book I will pitch. Starting now, I have to take those mystery characters and shove them aside — they don’t like that, by the way — and get my chick lit/rom com/women’s fiction characters into my head again. What was the heroine’s name again?

I should re-read the book. I am tempted to print it out and read it on the plane on the way to NJ. Actually, that’s not a bad idea. I’ve never pitched before, either, so exactly what will I need to do? The lovely and way too talented Alesia took me under her wing on this one a little and told me that pitching was pretty much like a query letter only in person. Okay. I get that. So how does that “in person” part affect it?

Do I walk into the room, sit down and say, “So there’s this chick named Maggie who was brought up by Mrs. Cleaver on steroids…” Or do I stand stiffly upright, clear my throat and launch into a dissertation on my characters, my plot, and why they want to buy my book? In 100 words or less.

I’m sure there’s a happy medium and I’m sure I’ll even find it. Would I like to sell a book in NJ? Heck yeah. Do I think I’ll actually do it? Not so much. At the same time, I really hope to be meeting some people who can help me eventually sell a book, be it LET’S DISH that I’ll be pitching, or MURDER IN F MINOR, that I’ll be thinking about instead. That might happen in my pitch, it might happen in the bar. Who knows? I guess I’ll figure it out when I get there. And trip over my tongue.

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The fear of flying has been replaced–if temporarily–by something else: the joy of shopping.

I don’t much like shopping. Mostly because it reminds me that I no longer wear a size 10 like I did in college, but also because I hate spending money on myself. I think there is some sort of gene that goes haywire the second you give birth. It tells you that you can buy $800 worth of jeans and sweats and jammies for the little ones, but to spend $25 on a pair of shoes for yourself is unforgivable. Then again, perhaps it was simply the way I was raised.

I’d known for awhile that I needed to get some new clothes, for work and for the conference in New Jersey. So this morning I actually managed to slip out of the house semi-unoticed by the youngest child. A.K.A. the growth that is normally attached to my hip. He wasn’t happy about it, but I told him I had to do some mommy shopping, and he went along with it. I escaped childless.

Armed with a couple of checks for birthday money and a gift certificate, I headed for the mall. Well, the bank and then the mall, with a side trip to pick up a latte. Hey, I was indulging. When I get to the mall, I head to my favorite store and, out of habit, hit the clearance rack. This time, though, I allowed myself to peruse the regular racks, too. I mean, if I’m going to buy myself a birthday present, I should get something nice, right?

At the second store–one of those big-name department stores I never let myself shop at–I scanned the regular racks, as well. And my credit card got a workout, I assure you.

Okay, I’ll confess. Everything I bought was on sale. But not everything was on ultra-ultra low clearance, like I normally buy. With the exception of the shoes. I bought shoes. At regular price.

Black Pumps
Oh, the shoes are a serious indulgence! I fell in love with them weeks ago, but was’t going to buy them. I rarely wear heels, so I won’t wear them much after the conference. But these were shoes that werecalling my name. I mean, look at them! And, even though you can’t see it too clearly in the pic, the heels are made of layers of wood. They remind me of those classy gals of the ’40s and ’50s. I love these shoes.
So now I get why shopaholics are… shopaholics. I came home, tried on all my new stuff, and felt jazzed. I’d spent way too much money, I was still not a size 10, but I was elated. Like some sort of adrenaline rush had hit. And when I put on my new 3 1/2 inch heels, even the husband got excited. He can actually kiss me without bending over and breaking his back. Maybe I’ll have to wear these things more often than I thought. You should have seen his face!

So will I shop like this on a regular basis? Heck no. But maybe, just maybe, I might indulge in a few items off the regular sale racks instead of the ultra-low-clearance racks from time to time. And I will definitely be buying more shoes!

And, for something completely different:

I feel the need to report (don’t ask me why) that I have a bruise on my foot. I have no idea how I got this bruise, but it is shaped exactly like a heart. Weird, huh?

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Filed under Life? You Mean I Have To Have A Life?

Dream Interpretation 101

So it’s less than a month now before I head out to New Jersey to meet all the cool chicks I’ve come to know on the Internet the last few years. And yes, I am counting the days. And hoping they’re not the last I have on this earth.

I know I’ve been saying for weeks that I hate flying, but I may have understated it. I am terrified to set foot on a plane. So what happens the day after I book my ticket? Big air terror bust in Great Britain. But they prevented that, you say. Yeah. And then came the Kentucky thing. What? 50 people dead? Because an air traffic controller hadn’t had enough sleep and a runway light was burned out?

So yes. I am absolutely scared to death to fly. So it was no surprise that the dreams started last night. The same night I realized it was less than a month to F-Day. (Flying or frying… my pilot will decide.)

In this dream, I had decided to take a flight to Minneapolis just to take a test run. Figure things out before I left for NJ. Now I’ve flown into the Cities before, but in this dream I felt the need to do it again. Whatever. So I get to our local airport and the lady who works at the post office at work was working the ticket counter. Don’t ask me why. That one is up to you armature dream interpreters out there.

Anyway, I buy my ticket and take my seat on the plane– no security, by the way– almost missed my plane because I had to go to the bathroom. But I made the plane, and found out my seat was at the back of the plane (which looked something like a bus with wings) and was a couch. Leather. No seat belts. As I am trying to figure this out, the plane starts to taxi. Down the street. In traffic. Can’t get enough speed up to take off since we keep hitting red lights, and I realize we are going to drive all the way to Minneapolis before we can take off.

That’s when my alarm went off, and I woke with this “What the fu…” feeling. Way to start the day.

So all you out there who like to probe into the psyche, what’s my deal? Why am I dreaming about taxiing in traffic? On a leather couch. In a bus. Go ahead, guess away. Have fun. In the mean time, I think I’m going to be calling the doc asking for a few dozen prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication.

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